Kylie Cheung in Salon:
Nearly three years ago, Christine Blasey Ford testified before the U.S. Senate that then-Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her decades ago. In many ways, her testimony, which became a watershed moment for survivors and women in politics, was able to happen because of the Black woman who had come before her: Anita Hill. A new podcast called “Because of Anita” revisits how in 1991, Hill testified that then-Supreme Court Justice nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her while she worked for him. Not only did her testimony introduce the concept of workplace sexual harassment into the lexicon, but it had galvanized generations of women, and shined a light on the unique experiences of Black women who seek safety and justice.
“There was an understanding [in 1991] — white women stood for gender, and Black men stood for race,” Cindi Leive, who co-hosts of the podcast along with New York Times cultural critic Dr. Salamishah Tillet, told Salon. “As a Black woman, she was in no woman’s land. . . . And it was really important for us to foreground that in this podcast.” At the time, it was precisely this limited conception of identity and its intersections that labeled Hill as a “race traitor,” a Black woman playing the part of a white woman for challenging Thomas, who was seen as representing all Black people as a Black man.
That’s why 30 years later, Anita Hill’s story feels more relevant than ever. To examine its impact and gain new insights, the four-part podcast features a conversation between Hill and Dr. Ford, as well as numerous interviews. Legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw in particular recalls attending the hearing and discusses intersectionality, a term she coined, in relation to Hill’s story and our understanding of it today. Other guests include: journalist Jane Mayer; Kerry Washington, who portrays Hill in “Confirmation”; Carol Moseley Braun, the first Black woman U.S. Senator; Me Too founder Tarana Burke; and a wide range of other expert voices.